～てある is quite different from ～ている, but it is still often confused with it. Just as was the case with いる, ある functions as a supplementary verb when paired with the particle て. As a recap, remember that in Japanese, a supplementary verb is a verb that loses some or all of its literal meaning(s) to serve a specific grammatical purpose.
～てある is exclusively used with verbs but is restricted to only certain kinds of verbs.
|Class||Example Verb||+ ～てある||Class||Example Verb||+ ～てある|
|Ichidan Verbs||伝える||伝えてある||Godan Verbs||洗う||洗ってある|
Grammar Note: For grammatical reasons to be discussed, 来てある is ungrammatical.
What is ～てある?
～てある shows a current state caused by someone's action. This state results from purposeful action done by someone, not something. In other words, the someone has to be a person. Personification, however, can be used to make non-humans treated as people in this situation. It's used with transitive verbs, but を is not used for this usage. The basic pattern is (だれかに)XがYてある.
花が生けてある means that "the flowers have been arranged (by someone)" and the flowers are still arranged as such. 生ける is transitive. Do not confuse with 生きる.
The following example exhibits a static nuance. The resultant state is "to have informed."
To have informed her beforehand.
Similarly, ～ことにしてある has it that something is deemed as such by someone but really isn't. ～にする means "to make as..". For example, ばかにする means "to make an idiot of". Similarly, "Verb + ことにする" means "to decide that". Together, you can make sentences like the one below.
I decided to (make myself out to) be well (even though I'm really not).
Let's put some context to this statement. Your friend is in a stressful situation at home. In order to not worry her family, she has decided to be spirited on the phone to keep them at ease. This wouldn't be referring to actually seeing them in person.
(I) have set the clock five minutes forward.
State: The state is that the clock has been set five minutes forward.
Sentence Note: Ex. 3 shows that this pattern occasionally implies that the speaker is who did the action.
The glass has been broken (because of the actions of someone and still is broken).
State: The glass is still broken due to the fact that someone purposely broke it in the first place.
The questionnaires have been gathered.
State: The questionnaires are now gathered due to the actions of a person or people.
The window is open (by someone).
State: The window has been left open by someone.
The heater was turned on (by someone) and has been kept that way.
State: The heater has been turned on by someone.
The tree has been toppled down (by someone).
State: A person knocked the tree down and the tree is still on the ground.
His temperature was checked (by someone).
State: The person's temperature has been checked.
Dinner has been made.
State: The dinner is made.
The shirt has been washed.
State: The shirt is washed.
The book was placed on the desk (by someone).
The luggage was piled up in a clutter (by someone).
～てある has other conjugations. For instance, you can still see ～てあった and ～てない. Because particle usage and other parts of grammar differ between the two patterns, it shouldn't be too difficult to distinguish this ～てない from the contraction of ～ていない, ～てない.
The first floor [had been/was] rented to an old book store.
It [had been/was] written in the newspaper.
There isn't much furniture placed.